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All In With Chris Hayes

News/Business. (2013)

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Us 11, Pentagon 9, Michigan 6, Buena Vista 6, Irs 5, Ted 4, Tim Dechristopher 4, Rachel Maddow 4, Chuck Hagel 3, Kirsten Gillibrand 3, Maxwell 3, Phillips 3, Benghazi 3, Steven Miller 3, America 3, Peter Alexander 2, David Petraeus 2, Lerner 2, Dan Kildee 2, Smith 2,
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  MSNBC    All In With Chris Hayes    News/Business.  (2013)  

    May 15, 2013
    8:00 - 9:01pm PDT  

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good evening from new york. i am chris hayes. thank you for joining us on a night we have breaking news out of the white house on two fronts. the white house administration's internal discussions over the benghazi attacks, e-mails that show, are you ready for this, the sound and fury over the administration's characterization of the tragedy is still much adieu about nothing. we'll get to that. but this evening, president obama also addressed the irs screening of certain right wing groups for extra scrutiny and announced his reaction to the treasury department's review. >> i've reviewed the treasury department watchdog's report, and the misconduct that uncovered is inexcusable. it's inexcusable and americans are right to be angry about it, and i am angry about it. today, secretary lew took the first step by requesting and
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accepting the resisgnation of the acting commissioner of the irs. we're going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. we will work with congress as it performs its oversight role, and our administration has to make sure that we are working hand-in-hand with congress to get this thing fixed. the good news is, it's fixable. >> so, irs acting commissioner steven miller is out, if you had that in your own personal who will go pool, you win. he will be stepping down in early june. and the congressional oversight to which president obama refers has barely begun. in fact, miller himself is still scheduled to testify on capitol hill on friday. let's bring in nbc white house correspondent peter alexander and david k. johnson, columnist for taxanalyst.com. and pulitzer prize winner. peter, you got your hands on the e-mails. there they are. you've read through them. what do we learn from them? >> first of all, chris, here are the 100 pages of e-mails, okay, and what they effectively do is lay out the jostling that took
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place between intelligence officials and diplomatic officials. these e-mails show exchanges between officials at the white house, the cia, and the state department over exactly what should be said in those talking points, the ones would be first provided to a house intelligence committee, but also provided to susan rice on that sunday following the benghazi attack. and i think the most significant lesson that we learn from reading these documents at this point is at least according to a senior administration official, that they say even though there was a lot of evidence that the state department, as we reported, wanted changes, a senior intelligence official says specifically that they wanted the same changes independently of the state department and that they proactively made those changes. in these documents, we see one of the versions of the talking points, where then deputy cia director mike morel had crossed out a lot of the language in there, specifically language that referred to al qaeda and referred to past cia warnings. the concern among senior
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administration officials who tell nbc news this was that they didn't want to prejudice the fbi investigation that was under way at the time, but we also see language in here that shows jostling between the top two people at the cia, mike morel and then the cia director, david petraeus. david petraeus, after all the e-mails are in the eyes of republicans scrub said the following in one of these e-mails, he says, "i just as soon not use these." that's what critics are pouncing on tonight. an assertion they believe because there's no evidence that the cia officials actually independently wanted these changes. that's just what they told us in this private briefing. there's no evidence of that. and these e-mails, they believe the white house and state department played a significant role in this process. >> not surprising critics still believe that. i've reviewed some of them, and what strikes me is what you have is a situation of a white house trying to referee a whole -- herding a whole lot of cats that
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have different stakes on this issue and what ultimately happens in any of these situations if you've ever been part of collaborative process, cooperation, where everybody's got a veto is you go to the lowest common denominator, which is to say the least amount possible, which is what it looks like to me from going through the e-mails today. david, i want to turn to you on the question of the irs and steven miller's exit. i got to say, my understanding is steven miller was not the guy overseeing the irs when any of this happened, so it doesn't necessarily seem like the most -- it's a swift decision by the president. it's definitely decisive. it definitely communicates that he's serious about this, but he was not the guy in charge of the irs when all of this went down. >> no. a bush appointee, doug shulman, was, and miller was fired. there's no two ways about it. they fired him. the amazing part of this is, lois learner the director of the
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exempt organization, she was the one the loop. she is the one that bungled. this the irs confirmed to me she has not resigned. that is absolutely appalling, and i will be very surprised if 24 hours from now ms. lerner has not resigned. if she hasn't, i think that would be very dishonorable of her. >> and you say that because as far as we know from the i.g. report, reporting that's come out, the furthest up this really went was to lerner. she was the furthest up in the chain who really knew what was going on as it was playing out. >> that's correct. and lerner also made misleading statements last friday to reporters and the conversation i was on where she tried to slip away. i said, no, you stay and finish answering our questions. she said she learned of this from news reports. the report makes it clear, that's not true. and i don't see how you can lead this organization having made a false statement like that, and on top of that, it's not a first time a journalist has complained about false statements by her. but on top of that, she's the
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person who is where the buck stops. >> yeah. well, nbc's peter alexander and david k. johnson, thank you for the briefing on tonight's breaking news. really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> thank you. we have a big show still ahead. the one and only rachel maddow joins me next along with senator kirsten gillibrand by another case of sexual assault in the military. plus, i'll talk with a man who's now free after spending hard time in prison from trying to stop the bush administration from giving away public land to big polluters, so stay with us.
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more breaking news tonight on a story we've been following
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closely and reporting here. florida teenager kiera wilmot, who blew the top off a water bottle at her high school, by mixing household products in it, kiera was arrested, expelled from school, and get this, faced potential felony charges as an adult. well, today some really fantastic news. the state attorney's office of florida has decided not to file criminal charges in the case. kiera is currently attending classes at an alternative school and waiting to see if she'll be allowed to return to her school next year. we'll continue to follow the story here on the show and at our website, allinwithchris.com. ...amelia... neil and buzz: for teaching us that you can't create the future... by clinging to the past. and with that: you're history. instead of looking behind... delta is looking beyond. 80 thousand of us investing billions... in everything from the best experiences below... to the finest comforts above. we're not simply saluting history... we're making it.
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another shocking new story in what is becoming the worst new beat in all of journalism, the beat covering members of the military charged with preventing sexual assault who are, themselves, accused of sexual assault. late last night, the army announced the latest case. >> in breaking news tonight, a coordinator for the army's sexual assault prevention program in ft. hood, texas, is under investigation for abusive sexual contact, pandering, assault, and maltreatment of subordinates. >> the soldier under investigation in this latest case has been relieved of duty, but not yet charged. the army is not releasing his name, but nbc news has learned truly incredibly details about what precisely this army sergeant is accused of. >> sources tell nbc news army investigators are looking into investigations that an army sergeant sexually assaulted a female soldier under his command, then forced her into prostitution and allegedly assaulted two others.
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>> "usa today" citing two senior pentagon officials this morning the sergeant is accused of, quote, running a prostitution ring. again, this is the guy in charge of sexual assault prevention for the u.s. army at the battalion level at ft. hood, and he is under investigation for sexual assault and running a prostitution ring. it is the kind of news that would be shocking and stomach turning enough on its own, but, of course, this news is not coming on its own, just a week after we learned of another military official in charge of sexual assault prevention being accused himself of sexual assault. chief of the air force sexual assault prevention and response branch was charged last week with sexual battery. >> he's accused of sexually assaulting a woman in an arlington, virginia, parking lot early sunday. the police report describes him as a drunken male subject, who approached a female victim and grabbed her breasts and buttocks before she fought him off and contacted police. >> all right.
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there are more than 1.4 million active duty members in the united states military, and, obviously, in any group of 1.4 million people, you're going to experience some criminal conduct. you're going to have some predators who commit truly terrible crimes, but what's happening right now in the military with sexual assault goes way beyond that. what we are seeing is a fundamental breakdown of the rule of law and two back-to-back cases of sexual assault prevention officers being accused of sexual assault are not novelties, coincidences, or flukes, we have reached a tipping point on this issue. according to the pentagon's own calculations, an estimated 26,000 members of the military were sexually assaulted last year. that's a 35% increase from the year before. obviously, sexual assault is a problem in the general population in america, as well, but it is worse for women in the military. women in the military are more likely to be sexually assaulted than women who are not in the
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military. in the general population, it's estimated that about 17% of women are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. for women in the military, that number could nearly double. and watch how it's being handled in the military. you start out with the pentagon's own estimate of 26,000 sexual assaults last year of those just over 3,000 were even reported. even fewer were fully investigated, and there were just 238 convictions out of 26,000 sexual assaults. when an institution is failing to live up to the most basic expectations to protect its own members, to adhere to the rule of law, and to impose punishment and accountability on those who violate it, here's a deep institutional problem at hand, and nothing more horribly dramatizes that problem than cases like the ones we're hearing about out of ft. hood today and the one last week out of arlington. joining us now, senator kirsten gillibrand, democrat from new york, who's introducing legislation aimed at fixing the institutional dysfunction behind the military's sexual assault epidemic. senator gillibrand, thank you
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very much for being here. >> my privilege. >> so, i want to talk about this legislation, but first i want your reaction to the news we've just gotten. for the second time in two weeks, a member of the military charged with preventing sexual assault is accused of it himself. >> it's incomprehensible. it's something that is so outrageous, and it just continues a long line of stories that shows that this is something the military does not have a good understanding of how corrosive and how undermining it is to good order and discipline. in fact, we really have to change the whole structure of how these cases are actually reported, who decides whether they go to trial, so victims have a hope of receiving justice. >> senator, the legislation you're about to introduce, explain to me how it fixes the problem, because the problem to someone who's on the outside looking at this, it looks as much cultural as it is legal. so, explain to me how legislation is going to fix this. >> well, what we know is what we know from the victims, and the victims have told us over and over again that they are
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reluctant to report, because if they have to report through their chain of command, they are afraid they will be retaliated against, marginalized, their careers will be over, they will be considered to be the problem, so they don't report these cases. the military just came out with a study that showed there's approximately 26,000 unwanted sexual contacts and of those, only 3,300 were reported. there's a gap between incident rate and reporting, and because the victims tell us there's a fear of retaliation, we need to change. we're doing exactly that, we're saying no longer do victims have to report through the chain of command, and no longer will their commanding officer make that fundamental legal decision whether a case should go forward to trial. that decision, we argue, should be better made by trained legal experts, prosecutors within the military who know this kind of issue and know the law. and we hope that with that one
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structural change, along with a second one, which is no commanding officer should have the ability to overturn a case or reduce a sentence once a jury says these crimes have been committed, those two changes would hopefully allow more victims to have the ability to come forward, to tell their story, and try to seek justice. >> so, the big change here is taking reporting out of the chain of command, not reportinge entity. >> and decision making. you can now report a crime to people outside of the chain of command, but it comes right back to your commanding officer and the commanding officer has to actually decide whether your case is going to move forward to trial. and that's being made by someone without any legal training who may not know about sexual assault. we've seen these cases, the chief of staff of the air force says he thinks the incident rate is so high because of the up culture of high school. obviously, that shows a grave lack of understanding of what sexual assault and rape is. it is a crime of violence, it is a crime of aggression, it is not a date gone badly.
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>> i want to play for you briefly secretary of defense chuck hagel, who is opposed of taking this outside the chain of command. take a listen to what he had to say. >> it is my strong belief, and i think others on capitol hill and within our institution, that the ultimate authority has to remain within the command structure, and we do have to go back and review every aspect of that chain of command, of that accountability. and some things do need to be changed. but i don't think taking it away, the responsibility ultimate responsibility away from the military, i think that would just weaken the system. >> my question to you is, can you get this done without the pentagon on board? >> we can. i don't think the pentagon was on board in revealing "don't ask, don't tell." i don't think all commanders were behind that policy. sometimes the military needs
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congress to provide the oversight and accountability that our constitution actually calls for. it's the reason why the department of defense willav a secretary who is a civilian. we want to have this level of oversight, and this is just a series of crimes that have not gone investigated and prosecuted and we don't see the conviction rates that we need to, because these crimes aren't taken seriously enough and it is a structural issue. secretary hagel did make the change of saying article 60, which was the decision to overturn a conviction, should be taken out of the chain of command. i agree with that. i think he should also urge article 30, the decision point of whether or not to go to trial, should also be taken out of the chain of command. >> senator kirsten gillibrand, thank you so much for joining me. >> thank you. joining me at the table tonight, rachel maddow, my friend, also host of "the rachel maddow show." you may have seen it, it's on msnbc, author of "drift," and former marine captain and company commander, now the executive director of servicewomen's action network. good to have you here.
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rachel, i thought of you when senator said that about the pentagon being on board, because you covered "don't ask, don't tell" repeal so closely and so thoroughly and i don't know if i agree with her that this can go forward if the pentagon isn't on board. >> she is right that the pentagon was not on board with "don't ask, don't tell" repeal in the '90s, with gays in the military, and that's how we got "don't ask, don't tell" back in the '90s, but in order for it to get done under this administration the way it did, repealing "don't ask, don't tell," yeah, they did have to be brought on board. that is what i was wrong about in political strategy around "don't ask, don't tell." i felt the administration should ram it through, no, no, no, we are lining everybody up so when we finally do push, we're pushing on an open door and it gets done. hearing chuck hagel say the opposite of what senator gillibrand thinks should happen, in terms of this political
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crisis is a problem that must be solved in order for there to be better solutions here. >> that is the question i have about how this is going to play out, because it does seem to me, anu, that chuck hagel and a lot of people around the pentagon aren't that excited, necessarily, about congress reaching in and telling them how the command structure should work. >> well, there are a lot of lawyers in the pentagon, and we're dealing with changes to military law. you're going to see enormous pushback. the uniform code of military justice, the portions we are talking about reforming tomorrow, are literally 250 years old. so we're dealing with sort of george washington era law, which has absolutely no applicability to today's military. >> how radical is this? >> are you going to throw out the uniform code of military justice? >> absolutely not. it's actually quite common sense reform. it's an effort to professionalize the system. today we don't have the most professional, qualified people. commanding officers don't have that kind of training and expertise. attorneys and judges do. well we have those judges and attorneys in the military. why not put them in charge of the military judicial process? >> i was really struck by the
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data about the incidents of assault in the military. actually, the majority of incidents themselves, men are the victims of. of course, you know, that's skewed by the fact there are many, many, many more men in the military than there are women, but it was fascinating to me, because it said there's this, i think, the thing that senator said was about the military understanding this people having one too many drinks or a date going wrong, as opposed to this being something about power fundamentally. >> hearing the top brass of the air force blaming hook-up culture for that being the problem. you know what, no. what this means, the prevalence of sexual assault in the military, what that means is people think they can get away with it. there is not a deterrent factor at work that military, criminal justice, law enforcement in the military is happening in such a way that if they do this, they are going to get in trouble, they better not do it. same with reporting. there's such a big gap in in the incidents of assault
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being reported and reporting it to authorities. you're not going to report it to authorities if you think the risk of reporting it as a victim is higher possibility something is going to happen and the crime is going to be prosecuted and solved and you're not going to be further victimized. law enforcement is failing within the military on this subject. looking how law enforcement in the military needs to be adjusted in order to make it stop failing seems to me a very conservative approach. >> right. the thing that's so fascinating to me is it's not like the military is doing nothing on this and what i have learned the past few weeks, there are all of these officers apparently who are in charge of trying to prevent this. and my question is what are they doing? what is going on, when you have the job that this person at ft. hood had, what are you doing day in, day out, to prevent sexual assault in the military? >> i'm not surprised at all. you have a senior enlisted person in the army's case and senior officer in the air force's case. these folks have been engrained in military culture. they are careerists. they have been in 15, 20 years.
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so they've grown up in a system of how to even understand how to educate young men and women about respect for women, about positive masculinity. there's absolutely no meaningful discussion happening within the military, because they are only looking to themselves for the answers and the answers are outside the military with civilian rape crisis centers and nonprofit organizations doing the hard work of educating teenage boys and men of taking ownership of this issue and making sexual violence and domestic violence men's issue, not women's issue to solve. >> i think part of the way it's evolved into being a better prosecuted issue outside the military is that a hard line has been drawn to say this is a crime, this is not -- there aren't different kinds of rape, there aren't legitimate rapes and legitimate rapes. you can't excuse that. if you don't have that, everything else you do to support victims or educate people about not getting themselves into the situation where they might be tempted to
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commit this crime -- >> whichal have seen says, and says to me they are not getting it right now. >> it's beside the point unless the bottom line is if you do it, you're going to get caught, prosecuted, dishonorably discharged and in jail. until that's true, actually, i don't think you're guilty, so you're free to go, until that issue is settled in the military, all this training stuff ends up being besides the point. >> here's the big question, i can't imagine a thing that would create more political consensus in america than the folks who are serving in the military should not be subject to fear of sexual predators and rape and sexual assault. that seems to me about you get 100% polling on that, right? so, how difficult is it going to be to get done politically? >> we're facing some resistance. >> where, how? what is the argument? >> yeah, what is the argument?
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>> we are dealing with habit and tradition. military deference has become almost like a physical habit, right, where we assume military leadership always knows best when it comes to issues within the military. it absolutely does not know best. it's obvious. every year, 20,000 to 25,000 service members are assaulted year after year, since 9/11, hundreds of thousands of troops who have been assaulted as they've been deployed out of iraq and afghanistan. it's shameful. there should be no politician, democrat or republican, who even hesitates to support this kind of legislation. >> and the politics, i think, we're seeing here which you're illuminating is not going to be republicans versus democrats, it's going to be the institutional politics of the pentagon and the hill. but i think if people keep paying attention to this and keep the spotlight on what is happening, the politics are going to get easier. anu of service women's network,
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thank you, rachel maddow, thank you. see you at the top of the hour, your show. coming up, a major turn of events in michigan and a victory for families tossed aside by the state government. it's good news. we're going to tell you about it next. for sein a whole new way. for seeing what cash is coming in and going out... so you can understand every angle of your cash flow- last week, this month, and even next year. for seeing your business's cash flow like never before, introducing cash flow insight powered by pnc cfo. a suite of online tools that lets you
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all right. this is my favorite block tonight, because it's huge welcomed good news today on a story that we've been covering closely here at "all in with chris." >> michigan department of education has just approved a deficit elimination plan for the buena vista school district. >> the district is hopeful that everyone will be back in class as early as this week. >> you heard that right. the buena vista school district
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will reopen, maybe as soon as friday, and students will finish out the school year, which runs until june 13th. that's because michigan education superintendent mike flanagan finally approved the district's third deficit elimination plan last night, which cleared the way to release state funding. as we first reported last week, then again on monday, buena vista students have not been in school since friday, may 3rd, because the district is out of money and republican rick snyder refused to release $500,000, or .1% of the state's rainy day fund so buena vista schools could reopened. that prompted the district to shut the doors on all three schools send a more than 400 kids home and lay off all 27 of its teachers. when we first covered this story, there was very little movement to resolve the problem to get the kids back in school, then there was a plan to offer an enhanced skills camp to focus on math, reading, and writing
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that would have been funded by a federal government grant, which we discussed with michigan's democratic congressman dan kildee the other night. >> now we come up with this concept, which is a day camp, which is not mandatory. the teachers that they've been learning from all year long -- >> have to reapply for their jobs. >> -- may or may not be selected. and a good number of the kids probably won't attend. >> then we got word yesterday from a source close to the goings on in buena vista that the skills camp idea wasn't going over very well in the press. a source told us that the state can't backtrack fast enough on this day camp idea. now they are working to get the schools open asap, apparently the remainder of the year. they took a beating in the press yesterday and realize the camp idea is a p.r. nightmare. finally, today, the state did the right thing and these students are going back to school to finish out the year. i'm joined tonight by
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congressman dan kildee. who represents michigan's fifth district. i have to ask how did the resolution come about and how are your constituents this the district feeling about it? >> well, they are happy about it. this is what we've been asking for since this started, to get these kids back in their classroom to finish the school year. the board of education approved the deficit elimination plan, and really, chris, i want to thank you and other folks who brought attention to this. it was putting a great big light on this problem that, i think, caused the reverse, of course. and the good news is these kids will be able to finish their school year, and i'm just really happy about that. >> what have we learned about michigan governor rick snyder in this, the fact he seemed willing, the state government seemed willing, to let these kids not be in school and not turn over any money and not find some way initially for a bridge loan or something. what does that say to you about the governor? >> first of all, i want to thank them for doing the right thing, even though it took some time.
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i'm not really anxious to point fingers. i think what it does show is we have huge inequities in this country and in michigan and lots of other places, and we need to correct those inequities. for every buena vista that had to close, there are hundreds of schools that are functioning barely at the sustainable level and getting marginal education because they are not getting the support that they need. so, i hope the governor takes from this is that buena vista is just a case and there's lots of other inequities that we need to address. hopefully, that will be the message that we get from this and we move on and try to correct those inequities. >> and finally, this is important because i've gotten more viewer feedback on this issue than anything else, it is pronounced buena vista, correct? >> buena vista. >> there we go. thank you, thank you. just like it's detroit and not detroit. thank you very much, congressman, thanks for your work on this. >> thank you, chris. >> we will be right back with click3. r! mamake a wish!h! i wish w we could lie e here forevever.
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next, the incredible story of a man who tried to disrupt a corrupt bush administration land giveaway and did two years in prison because of it. he joins me next. first, the three awesomest things on the internet today, beginning with a pitch from twitter fan who tells us about an addictive geography game totally for nerds like us. called geoguesser. first, an image pops up taken from any place in the world. a small map in the corner of the screen allows you to pin where you think the image is located. you submit your guess and see how you do. the real location is revealed and the distance of that location and your guess is measured. it's really addictive. clues are offered through street signs, vegetation and cars on the road. awaken your inner carmen san diego and take a crack at it. the second awesomest thing on
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the internet today, a few amazing images of the past, present, and future of the women's movement. first, the present, 113th tumblr, represents the female representation currently in congress divided by house and senate, also by party. the caption says it all, congress ladies plus men equals still a ways to go. which brings us a cool idea from photographer jamie moore, ms. moore wanted to commemorate her daughter emma's fifth birthday and was looking for something more empowering than a disney princess theme. here's the alternative, five different women, all of whom have had an impact on history, susan b. anthony to helen keller. they are really amazing, stunning images. perhaps providing inspiration for the next generation, my daughter included, well done. the third awesomest thing on the internet today, the saga of the rubber duck of hong kong. a giant yellow duck floating in the victoria harbor. she's been good for business.
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sales of rubber ducks have soared. tourists are flocking to hong kong. nearby hotels are advertising rooms that have great duck views. you can imagine the utter anguish felt when an apparent case of bird flu struck reducing the 54 foot mighty duck to a flattened beach ball. officials say she is undergoing necessary maintenance, tweeting the rubber duck needs to freshen up. stay tuned for its return. nevertheless, as "the wall street journal reports," the highest trending topic of china's version of twitter, don't die, i still haven't had a chance to make a pilgrimage and come visit you. -- wofr ship worship you. is nothing sacred? who shot and killed the duck? others used emoticons to share feelings. we offer the deepest condolences to those in mourning. get well and god sbeed, speed, rubber duck. you can find the link to all three on our website, allinwithchris.com. we'll be right back.
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all of you out here with a reminder for all of us that i wasn't just a finger all alone in there, i was connected with a hand with many fingers that can unite as one fist. and if that fist cannot be broken by the power that they have in there. that fist is not a symbol of violence, that fist is a symbol that we will not be misled into thinking we are alone.
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we will not be lied to and think we are weak. we will not be divided, and we will not back down. that fist is a symbol that we are connected and that we are powerful. it's a symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world, and we are building the self empowering movement to make it happen. >> that man with the fist is named tim dechristopher and that speech was given on the day the then-29-year-old climate activist was committed on two felonies, for which he was sentenced for two years in federal prison. two years, i might add, is more than anyone guilty of torture or any banker guilty of bringing down the world economy has ever served. he was found guilty on violating laws on oil and gas leasing and making false statements. what did he do that got him two years in federal prison? he messed with a federal auction run by the bureau of land management in utah. it was auctioning off leases to oil and gas companies to drill
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on federal land. it was december 2008 in the waning day the bush administration. in the last few days. dechristopher was a student who showed up to protection outside of an auction. when asked if he was outside the auction he said yes, when asked if he was a bidder, he said yes, he began to bid against the oil and gas companies. he bid until he won in some cases, and he bid so fossil fuel companies would have to pay more to drill on this incredibly valuable land that the federal government was basically giving away. and when i say they were giving it away, i mean they were giving it away. on the way out the door and as a final gift to fossil fuel companies, bush allowed to drill on tens of thousands of acres on federal land, cheap to their buddies with no recriminations because they were a lame duck administration. the practice was so egregious the obama administration later stepped in and invalidated the auctions. obama's former interior secretary, ken salazar, said in
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the last weeks of office the bush administration rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases near some of our nation's most precious landscapes in utah. the auctions were voided, determined to be corrupt and invalid, including the auction that dechristopher bid on. that did not save him from being sentenced to two years hard time. tim dechristopher just got out of prison. he was released from federal custody in april and she joining me in the studio. great to have you here. >> thank you. it is great to be here. >> you are the subject of a new film "bidder 70," which is about what went on. i want to start with you showing up at this auction as an activist, student activist. how did this go down, why were you at a protest of a land management -- bureau of land management auction? >> this particular auction was getting a lot of attention in utah at the time because it was a unique situation. the bureau of land management
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has long-term management plans that impact the whole region. these particular lands have always been off limits throughout previous administrations, and the bush administration rewrote those plans and that's a long process that it took them the entire eight years of this administration. this was really the first auction under these new plans that opened up these lands. >> these are sort of part of our natural endowment, we're not going to drill on these, these are beautiful, pristine public lands we want to save as such and the bush administration said you can drill on this and this is the first auction you're going to be able to do it. >> yeah. it was both the first auction of the new plans and last auction under the bush administration and they expected, falsely, that the next administration would not be as friendly to the oil industry. >> you walked in there and you -- someone said are you here to bid, and you said yes. >> yeah. >> and you went up there and what happened when you got into this room? >> once i got in there, i saw i could actually have an impact with the bidder card that they gave me. >> one of the auction placard things?
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>> yeah. yeah. i saw the parcels were going for $10 an acre, $2 an acre. >> $2 an acre? >> yeah. >> i decided that was just not acceptable. i went there with the intention to do whatever i could to stand in the way of this. over the course of 2008, i was becoming more and more concerned about climate change, seeing what we were doing as a climate, movement wasn't working, and also studying social movement history and seeing that it takes people to step past those boundaries and put themselves on the line to actually create change in this country, so i was building up the commitment to take that kind of action and then i just happened to find this opportunity. >> so, you bid, you won some parcels. afterwards, it became clear you couldn't pay for these parcels. >> yeah. i mean, i wasn't trying to be subtle. i was there as an active protest. i started to raise your inch card just an inch and i started raising it higher and higher
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until i was holding it up in the air. and i stopped bringing it down in between bids. i was holding it up constantly. finally, they stopped the auction and took me out and an officer said, you know, doesn't seem like you're a normal bidder, just wondering what your intentions are here. my intention is to stand in the way of this in any way that i can, it's a fraud to the american people and threat to my future. with that, he was kind of stunned, took me into custody. it was a long two and a half year legal process. >> when did you realize just how serious this was going to be? two years is -- well, i don't have to tell you that, that's a lot of time. >> that's about what i expected when i was sitting in the auction. and throughout, you know, that's what my lawyers told me when the government would offer me plea bargains, my lawyers would say if you don't take this bargain, you're probably going to get convicted and do about two years. >> why didn't you take a plea bargain? >> i think the role of the jury is really important in our legal system. i think a lot of the problems with our justice system stem
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with the fact the role of the jury has almost been eliminated, so i wasn't comfortable with any solution that didn't involve a citizen role in the process. >> all right. i want to read a quote from the u.s. -- utah attorney general. the rule of law is the bedrock of society during your sentencing recommendation. the rule of law is the bedrock of our civilized society. not acts of civil 0 disobedience committed in the name of the cause of the day. and i think there are probably people watching this right now that say, hey, look, he broke the law. breaking the law is not something to be done lightly. i want you to explain to me why you chose to break the law and why this statement, right after we take this break. constipated? yeah. mm. some laxatives like dulcolax can cause cramps. but phillips' caplets don't. they have magnesium. for effective relief of occasional constipation. thanks. [ phillips' lady ] live the regular life. phillips'.
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i'm here with climate activist tim dechristopher, the subject of the new documentary film "bidder 70." he served more than two years for his protest of a rigged bureau of land management auction. i read you a quote before the break of a prosecutor talking about civil disobedience, that law is the bedrock of our civilized society and not the acts of civil disobedience for the cause of the day. >> i think if it's true the law is the bedrock of our society, then the bedrock of the law is shared moral values. it's always civil disobedience, that made the law line up with our shared moral values. thomas jefferson said if i have to choose between citizens involved in the enforcing of the laws or breaking them, i'd choose enforcing them.
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the system created by our founding faeehr s /* /- fathers, the system created was if our legislature was creating laws out of line with the values of our community, people who felt passionately about that could choose to not follow those laws, take their case before a jury of their peers, who had the power to decide whether or not that person was acting justly and whether or not that law was in line with our values. it's something that's played a big role in our history with the fugitive slave act and prohibition and part of what was missing from that process. and that's not something that should be done lightly. that still involves a big risk, as it should. this certainly wasn't a decision i made lightly. it's a decision i made in the face of a global crisis that is an existential sense of our civilization, one our government was doing nothing in response to. >> we just passed a benchmark for the carbon in the atmosphere, there's now more carbon in the atmosphere than in 800,000 years, best estimate as far back as 3 to 5 million years. do you think civil disobedience
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is still necessary? >> absolutely. i think it's more necessary than ever, and we're seeing more of the climate movement embrace civil disobedience as part of a diverse movement. i think what it means when we're passing things like 400 parts per million and already seeing the impacts we are with weather impacts and melting icecaps, you know, what it means is that it's too late for any amount of emissions reductions to prevent catastrophic climate change, and that means we're committed to a path of extremely rapid change, unprecedented rapid change, and for me, looking at that period of potentially catastrophic change, it really matters who's in charge. it matters who's calling the shots if we're going down that road, and, you know, going down that road with an educated, empowered citizenry that can hold our government accountable, that's certainly a lot of hardships, but one that we can deal with. >> you're making me feel hopeless and for the people who
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are watching this at home saying to themselves, look, i care about this, but i can't go to prison, i'm not going to go to prison for two years. what is the message for people watching this who are not going to go to prison for two years? who are not going to engage in civil disobedience? >> i don't think everybody in a movement needs to. i think people need to take a lot of different kinds of actions, and nobody can tell somebody what that kind of action is, whether it's me or bill mcgibbon or any leader of any climate group out there. >> bill mckimmen is a prominent activist who runs a group called 350 network. >> nobody has solved a crisis before or overthrown corporate power to the need we need to in this country. nobody has the answers of exactly what kind of actions are going to work. we can learn from the principles that are clear throughout social movement history of how people outside of the power structure have forced changes, and we need to learn from those principles, but we're also going to need a
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lot of creativity and a lot of people taking actions. making mistakes, if necessary, but acting knowing they have a movement behind them, a movement that's going to make their actions more powerful and a movement that's going to support them and carry them through that. that's something that i've learned from my experience. i took this action alone, but from the next day on, i wasn't alone anymore. i had that movement that supported me, that amplified my actions, and that carried me through it and that's really why it's been such a positive experience for me. >> what's next for you? >> well, i'm continuing as an activist. i'm on three years of probation at this point, and i'm going to spend that three years at harvard divinity school, and i see that really as an extension of my activism, not a new direction. i think a lot of the obstacles that we're facing at this point are in large part spiritual obstacles. i think we've got the resources that we need to tackle these challenges and we just need that internal power to rise up and meet that challenge.
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>> "bidder 70" is opening in more theaters around the country this friday. tim dechristopher, thank you, it's really a pleasure. >> thanks for having me. that's "all in" this evening, "the rachel maddow show" starts now. >> thank you for having me on your show, that was a great honor. thanks to you at home for joining me this hour. so, today happened, the president of the united states fired the head of the irs. or announced his resignation had been accepted. also, the whole benghazi scandal, the months-long scandal went away today. the attorney general got grilled for four solid hours today, and today at grand central station in new york city, iran and america wrestled. and it was not a metaphor. there was actual physical wrestling in the train station. also, there was a mystery toddler today in washington. watch this. watch for the toddler. >> we'll do that, and given the relationship you and i have mr. former chairman, we'll try to

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